A senior resident Judge at the Mbale High Court, Lady Justice Suzan Okalany, has raised an alarm over fear of an assassin who has been hired by a group of businessmen in Bukedea town and a politician from the area, to kill her. She has also indicated that the assassins were also targeting key witnesses and individuals who seemed sympathetic to Bukedea Cattle Market officials who were recently attacked and severely wounded by some suspects who are now in detention.
In a letter dated October 28, 2019, Okalany, through her lawyers Alliance Advocates to the Director of Public Prosecution Mike Chibita and copied to President Yoweri Museveni and the Inspector General of Police, accused a female politician as the person behind her current woes.
The judge noted that her woes started on October 16, 2019, which was a market day at the Bukedea cattle market. The judge noted that her residence is about 70 meters from the said market and that on the fateful day, as officers of the Bukedea Town Council who included Charles Obonyo her cousin and Dr. Nelson Mafabi, a veterinary officer, were planning to carry out their normal duties in the said cattle market they were attacked and severely wounded.
“They were brutally attacked using deadly crude weapons by a group of people reportedly under the command of one Isaac Epilo who has always been the tenderer of the same cattle market. Epilo subsequently went to Mama Bukedea FM radio station at about 8pm and declared that to his knowledge it was only Dr. Mafabi that had been assaulted in the market incident,” the Judge noted.
The Judge noted that when the market tenderer who had been running the cattle market expired, the CAO directed Bukedea Town Council to take over the collection of the revenue as they searched for another service provider. She noted that the CAO directed Dr. Mafabi and Epilo to take over revenue collection and requested the District Police Commander Bukedea to provide security since there was a likelihood of resistance and violence by a faction led by Epilo and his group.
“It is very sad to note that the DPC conveniently left his station and refused to deploy when there was an imminent danger of violence. His inaction, no doubt exposed the officers on duty to danger. It is therefore not surprising that the victims were helplessly beaten and hacked with deadly weapons with no one to rescue them. This is very deplorable,” the judge noted in her statement.
She noted that the victims of the attack sustained grievous injuries and one of them was reportedly robbed and that they were receiving treatment and had opened up cases of aggravated robbery vide Bkd CRB289/2019, assault BKD CRB 295/2019, BKD CRB 289/2019 as well as one on causing grievous bodily harm under reference BKD CRB291/2019.
She noted that weeks after the incident, no suspect had been arraigned in court prompting her to contact the IGP to intervene having received information that both the local police and the regional police had been compromised by a powerful female politician from the region. She noted that the IGP sent Professional Standards Unit officers who conducted investigations and some of the suspects were arrested and arraigned in court in Soroti and remanded.
Efforts to get a comment from Police spokesperson Fred Enanga on what action they had taken proved futile. The DPC Bukedea Ezra Tugume declined to comment about the matter noting that the suspects had been arrested and the matter was in court. "The case is also being handled by the PSU so I cannot comment," Tugume said.
The Judge noted that, before the suspects were arrested, they went around boasting how, “they are untouchable since they had the backing of the said powerful woman politician.”
She also says that, “they have been telling whoever cares that the charges will be withdrawn or at worst that of the one of aggravated robbery will be reduced to simple robbery to pave way for them to apply for and be released on bail by the magistrates court.”
She also noted that one suspect Brigadier Opolot is still at large but has been seen around being escorted by armed guards.
The judge noted that the suspects had openly demonized and threatened to eliminate her and whoever is pressing for their prosecution. The judge noted that one of the suspect Epilo had threatened to walk naked to her home and that he has sworn while in custody that, “as soon as he is released, he will harm the judge for stepping on the tail of the snake.”
She noted that she had become the target of the powerful and connected lawless gang, “who have thrived in their schemes together with their backers for the simple reason that she helped her cousin get medical treatment and taken him to her home for protection and for advocating justice for all the victims of the market incident.”
She noted that several other victims in Teso who had suffered under the wrath of the same suspects had invaded the home of a prominent Teso politician, Teddy Amojong Acham, with complaints. She listed some of the cases against the suspects as, murder case CRB16/2019 which involved the hacking of Grace Olupot Emukunyu at Kongatunya village and the suspects include a police officer.
Eviction of hundreds of cattle in Amejuju village, Malera, Kabarwa Sub County in Bukedea district and the evictees are still homeless and destitute.
Theft of 55 heads of cattle registered as CRB/692/2013, malicious damage to property registered as CRB1280/2013, arson and assault under CRB04/2011, destruction of a motor vehicle registered as CRB/181
She requested the DPP to among others, “call for all the case files mentioned and direct a thorough investigations so that the oppressed and vanquished complainant’s can see justice.” She also requested the DPP not to reduce the charges of aggravated robbery to simple robbery just for the sole of facilitating the suspects charged and remanded to get bail as this would tantamount to perversion of justice. Justice Okalany has also requested the DPP to direct competent officers of integrity to investigate all the stalled criminal complaints to completion.
She also wants the DPP to direct the Police to undertake appropriate measures to protect the witnesses in these cases from harm by the suspects and their sympathizers.